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Companies to Watch: Public

December 21, 2009

AMZN; Seattle, WA; founded 1994; 20,700 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
$1.0 billion

Led the charge in bringing electronic books into the mainstream with its Kindle e-­readers. Is facing challenges from competitors such as Sony and Barnes and Noble, which recently introduced its Nook e-reader. Read more company information.

Company: Apple
AAPL; Cupertino, CA; founded 1976; 36,800 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
$1.1 billion

Its iPhone and iPod devices, coupled with its iTunes Music Store, reshaped the digital-media landscape. There are rumors that the company is developing a tablet computer with a large touch-screen interface that could let it enter the e-reader market. Read more company information.

Company: Baidu
BIDU; Beijing; founded 2000; 6,387 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
$42.0 million

Commands about two-thirds of the booming Chinese search market after successfully holding off Google with a range of services attuned to local users. Whether it can compete on a global scale is uncertain. Read more company information.

Company: ComScore
SCOR; Reston, VA; founded 1999; 581 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
$14.8 million

The current market leader in metrics, ComScore is attempting to reliably measure online audiences across multiple platforms, including the Web and mobile devices. Such measurement would provide a reliable way for marketers to decide how much to pay content providers for advertising. Competitors include Quantcast.

Company: Google
GOOG; Mountain View, CA; founded 1998; 19,655 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
$2.8 billion

Google’s advertising networks are what allow many online media creators to make some money from their content. Its ownership of YouTube gives the company a huge presence in online video, and its Android operating system may represent the only serious competition to the iPhone in the smart-phone market. Read more company information.

Company: Netflix
NFLX; Los Gatos, CA; founded 1997; 1,644 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
$89.9 million

After disrupting the store-based model of Blockbuster and similar chains with its DVD-by-mail subscription service, Netflix has introduced a video-on-demand service on its website. It has also worked with manufacturers of televisions and set-top boxes to stream its catalogue directly to TV screens. Read more company information.

Company: The New York Times Company
NYT; New York City; founded 1896; 9,346 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
not available

Once synonymous with American journalism, the company, which owns the Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune, has struggled with the collapse of advertising in the newspaper industry. With more than 17 million unique Web visitors per month, it is experimenting with ways to make money online. Read more company information.

Company: News Corp.
NWSA; New York City; founded 1922; 55,000 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
not available

Rupert Murdoch’s multimedia empire develops virtually no technology itself. Nevertheless, it has mastered convergence, successfully selling intellectual property across multiple platforms and regions. Murdoch is also a strong proponent of paid content, charging for online access to the Wall Street Journal and threatening to opt out of Google’s search index. Read more company information.

Company: Sony
SNE; Tokyo; founded 1946; 171,300 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
$5.5 billion

Controls a huge amount of digital content but has made a number of missteps in dealing with media convergence; its slowness to develop on online service for its Playstation 3 console is just one example. However, Sony has moved quickly to bring new media devices to market, including e-readers and televisions that support Internet video. Read more company information.

Company: Thomson Reuters
TRI; New York City; founded 1851; 53,700 employees
2008 R&D Spending:
not available

Has proved very willing to experiment with new technologies that will allow it to syndicate its news content online. Its financial-analytics services are facing new competition from Google and Yahoo, which are offering similar services at low or no cost. Read more company information.

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